Thursday, November 26, 2015

Clearwater 101

Clearwater 101

Phillies players throw the baseball during working outs at Bright House Field in Clearwater. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Phillies players throw the baseball during working outs at Bright House Field in Clearwater. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

The first rule of Clearwater is you do not talk about Clearwater. Actually, that's not true. In fact, it doesn't make sense. Because I'm about to talk about Clearwater to you. Every year around this time I get a slew of emails asking for some recon on the spring training home of your Fightin' Phils. So, I figure, why not write up a little cheat sheet and post it here on the Internet for everybody to access. This cheat sheet will be tailored to those who usually drink a beer or two when engaging in any sort of vacation activity. To the teetotalers, I apologize. Write what you know, they tell us. 


Bright House Field is the best spring training stadium in Florida, mostly because it is not built out of splintered two-by-fours and it is located in a metropolitan area that you have heard of. I would not recommend venturing too far out of the Tampa Bay area, lest you run into the Florida that the tourism board would rather you not see, the Florida that you hear about on the Daily Show, the Florida that makes the rest of the country feel better about itself.

More coverage
VOTE: Who'll be the next coach/manager to leave?
POLL: Is Klentak the right choice for the Phils as GM?
Final season stats for Phillies
Download FREE Philly Sports Now app for iPhone!
Buy Phillies jerseys and other gear
WATCH: Daily fantasy baseball updates

The coolest feature at Bright House Field is the Tiki Bar in left field. It is just above the Phillies bullpen, which is adjacent to the grass berm that occupies most of the outfield. Berm seats seem like the best option to me because they are the closest to the bar, but the seats are your best bet if you want an up close look at the action.


Gates open around 10:30 a.m. When they open, a recording of Harry Kalas' voice set against the theme from The Natural welcomes you to Bright House Field. It's pretty cool for the first two or 10 times that you hear it, but toward the end of March it begins to occupy important parts of your brain. But you onlly have to worry about that if you are planning on staying for all of spring training. And I would not recommend that. 

The best place to get autogrpahs seems to be the fence that separates the players parking lot from the real world. Thing is, the players usually arrive before 8 a.m. Some of them arrive well before. And most of the stars end up parking their cars closer to the stadium, beyond the gauntlet of autograph seekers. So the second-best place to get autographs is along the foul line after batting practice. Unless you are trying to get Ryan Lawrence's autograph. He only signs on Thursdays. 


Down the street from the stadium, next to the Hampton Inn, there is a diner called Lenny's that is something of a landmark spot. The food is decent by Florida standards. Personally I think their lunch is better than their breakfast, but that's just me. While you wait for your breakfast they bring your table a bowl of danishes, so that is kind of cool. Head down Gulf-to-Bay a little further and there is a Village Inn, which is a chain of Perkins-type restaurants with food that is better than Perkins. Aside from that, you have all of the chain restaurants you can imagine within a five minute drive. Because, after all, this is Florida.


The best restaurant in Clearwater is called the Island Way Grill, which is on the right after you go over the bridge to the beach, just before the traffic circle. At one point Mike Alstott had a role in owning it. I'm not sure if he still does. They have lots of fish and a full sushi bar. 

There is a place called Los Mariachis that serves Mexican food that is supposedly pretty good. 

The Tampa Bay area is not a great place for foodies, but there are some decent places. You'll have to leave Clearwater, though. Bern's is a steakhouse that is a Tampa landmark. Inquirer Eagles writer Zach Berman's favorite restaurant on Planet Earth is in Ybor City, Tampa. It's called the Columbia, and it really is an excellent place for Cuban-inspired cuisine. There is a place called Daily Eats on Howard Ave. in Hyde Park, Tampa that is good, especially for lunch. Good sandwiches and "shredder bowls."

My favorite Tampa-area chain is called Lee Roy Selmon's. Awesome southern cuisine. Great burgers and meatloaf. Make sure you get the Fried Green Tomatoes. And they have one of the Top 5 Blood Marys I've ever had. 


If Clearwater Beach feels too much like spring break, I'd recommend heading south to Treasure Island and a cool beach bar called Caddy's. The sports writers like to hang out at a place called Frenchy's Cafe that is across the street from the Palm Pavilion. Tampa has a much better scene than Clearwater. The two main neighborhoods are Hyde Park and Ybor City. Nothing great, but several places within walking distance. 

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog
High Cheese is your place for the best Phillies coverage from the Daily News.

David Murphy Daily News Staff Writer
Ryan Lawrence Daily News Staff Writer
Latest Videos:
Also on
letter icon Newsletter